Is it true that Yoga affects the pineal gland? Yoga’s effect on the adrenal glands is no secret, but just how much our body depends on a tiny gland called the pineal might be. Located near the center of the brain, the pineal gland reacts to light in order to produce melatonin, a serotonin derivative that controls our sleep/wake cycles. Additionally, melatonin isn’t only important to healthy cell growth, but it also affects the levels of a stress hormone called cortisol. In fact, high melatonin levels reduce cortisol, allowing us to sleep while low melatonin levels increase cortisol, causing insomnia.
The Pineal and Physical Health
The pineal gland, varying in size from a grain of rice to that of a pea, increases in size during the first two years of childhood. After childhood, the pineal gland then stays about the same size. Its weight, however, gradually increases after puberty; the melatonin level falls, and the pineal gland often becomes calcified in adults. Could this evolution explain the sometimes uncanny ability of children to sense the unknown? Certainly, the pineal gland is surrounded by mystery and myth.
The Pineal and Emotional Health
The pineal gland, also known as the third eye, is associated with the sixth and seventh chakras. Sometimes, teachers believe the pineal gland to be our point of connection with God and higher realms of consciousness. Of course, the third eye is the seat of our intuition, inspiration, and vision. Then again, chakra blockages in this area include control issues, over-intellectualizing, addictions, and rigidity. Nevertheless, practices like meditation, prayer, and Yoga help us to clear blocked energy from the crown chakra and increase our intuition and awareness. According to some teachers, the pineal gland can convert melatonin into a powerful drug with psychedelic effects on the brain. In reality, the pineal gland will help you develop healthy sleep patterns, which is a major benefit.
How Yoga Helps the Pineal Gland
In the journal “Medical Hypotheses,” psychiatrist Eric Leskowitz of the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston has an interesting idea. For example, he theorizes that the pineal gland might be the scientific explanation for what ancient Yogis described as the third eye or crown chakra. If so, the balancing act of Yoga poses, breathing, meditation, and chanting may be all we need. In other words, Yoga mends our minds and brings our circadian rhythms back in harmony. In fact, practicing Yoga Nidra on sleepless nights is beneficial for many health reasons.
Notably, Yoga Nidra, a meditative state of deep relaxation, affects melatonin levels. For example, Yoga Nidra restores energy and calms the mind. Yet, it also re-programs the subconscious thoughts and habits that keep us stuck in a state of confusion and anxiety. Nevertheless, science has proven that melatonin helps us to heal faster, prevents disease, and slows down premature aging. Meanwhile, melatonin contributes to better sleep, and strengthens the immune system. As a result, the pineal gland plays an important role, whether we look at it from a scientific or philosophical point of view. Ultimately, the optimal health of the entire body and mind is Yoga’s mission. Therefore, to some degree, yoga affects the pineal gland during and after practice.
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